MAIN EVENT. A Good Place to Get Started --- a.k.a "Table of Contents"
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Baltimore - 13 February, 2000 - I went through another of my Dark Nights of the Soul this past weekend. The black dog only left when I was talking with my Portuguese brother, Dove. Dove said that he could tell the black dog (of Depression) was in my front yard. I didn't want to tell him it was already in my living room eating my ass.
Half way through my recitation of what the past two weeks have been like, he interrupted me: "You don't get it? Hello! You're exhausted. You just told me how you did all the things everyone needed you to do, and that's amazing. But your body and soul know how stupid you are.
"They said, 'Hey! We're beat. We quit! You stupid sonuvabitch!' "
I have this problem with refusing to admit that I'm not capable of super-human effort. I keep forgetting that I'll be 48 years old this year and that I don't have limitless energy. I work until I drop.
And I dropped this past weekend. I dropped hard.
And until I talked to Dove, I couldn't figure out why.
I keep imagining I'm still 16, you see.
In our conversation, Dove reminded me that --- more important than my obligations to my new managers at Andover.net, more important even than my obligations to you who bother to write for G21 or read it, more important than the phone company, the gas company, the IRS --- is my obligation to my soul.
(Rod, you are getting on shakey ground here. We don't like to talk about this type of stuff. We like you better when you are either angry or funny.)
And there it was. That was what allowed me to kick that darned black dog off my ass and out of my living room. That woke me back up again!
I had forgotten my obligation to my soul... As you, perhaps, might sometimes do.
But when I was reminded that the REAL ISSUE is my soul, I was able to laugh again. Right away! I was able to laugh because my soul is filled with laughter, not just tears, and I remembered that I am now on a mission to collect some dues.
FEED THE HUNGRY. You can help someone else in this world and IT WON'T COST YOU A DIME. If you simply remember to drop by The Hunger Site every day that you surf and click a simple button ONE LESS PERSON WILL GO HUNGRY. The food is distributed by the United Nations World Food Programme and paid for through the sponsorship of companies that care. Do your part.
Some wonderful things kept happening around me.
I got to talk to my friend Yona in Oakland, CA, who cares very much about me. And alumnus JEFF WINBUSH, who is now Managing Editor of the Columbus, OH, Post and I talked on the telephone for the first time as I sought permission to reprint his excellent article which you'll find at BLACK INK in this edition.
It was interesting to talk to Jeff now that he's in the position I've been in for years. Suddenly, he gets to feel the frustration of being an Editor rather than simply a writer. Neither of us got into the game to be the man in charge and neither of us like all of it.
But it's a great feeling to give other writers a chance, I think we both agree on that much.
I've been very happy with the success of RECOMMENDED DAILY REQUIREMENT (RDR). As I suspected, it's exactly what you needed from The World's Magazine. Hoorah!
The World's Magazine: generator21.net
Event # 203: DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL
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YO, BARB, DOEI "met" my friend Yona Riel, who I talked to this weekend when the black dog was all over me and I had been in bed all day, back in 1992 on the BBS "SFNet." At that time she made no bones about the fact that she hated all men.
I didn't let that stand in my way.
What connected us was writing. Yona read a description of a fictional stripper's thought in a novel I was working on then and it led to our striking up a cyber conversation.
One day, while I was sucking down coffee in a cybercafe in the Haight, she shared a piece of her erotica with some of us on SFNet. I was floored! It was *so good*. And, yes, it aroused me. I knew I had to meet a person who could write like this.
Well, as you might imagine, lots of people were surprised that Yona and I became friends.
My friend Barbara, who had known me for 12 years at that point, said: "Now let me get this straight. You're making a friendship with a woman who hates men."
"Well... Uh, yes," I said,
"So that means she hates you, right?"
"Well, not exactly," I said. "She's willing to give me a chance. And besides, she's a wonderful writer! Read this!"
So I showed Barb a print-out I had made of Yo's erotica.
"She writes like you," Barb said. "She thinks about sex in the same way that you do."
"You see?" I enthused, "That's it! I've been looking for someone like Yo for years!!
"I'm going to ask her if we can collaborate on the novel."
Barb smiled. "After you get her to get over the fact that you are a man."
I knew that was a problem. But after reading Yo's writing, I felt we could overlook that. I hoped we could.
This is where I have to tell you about Doe. Really her name was Dottie. I just called her Doe. Dottie was ten years older than me when I met her. She has been my benchmark for fellatio all these years. My biggest regret is that she cared about me more than I did about her. But I was young when I met her, in my twenties.
She was probably the most generous woman I've ever met. She was the first woman I knew who felt the same way about sex as I do. "It's like breathing for you, isn't it?" she said.
I met Doe at an after-hours club in Virginia Beach, VA, that catered to the hospitality industry crowd. She and her boss showed up there one night after getting off work at the Holiday Inn. Her boss was a real looker, the type of woman you'd want --- if you were a horndog like me in those days --- as your trophy girlfriend. She was a snappy dresser and drove a cool sports car, too. You get the picture; my bim' problem again.
So figuring that the boss, Rose, knew she was an obvious target, I hit on Dottie. To my surprise, Dottie was a very dirty dancer. And she was on the make like me.
I remember that the first time we had a "session" together, we collapsed in each others arms laughing like crazy. "You're good," she said. "And evil.
"And I bet you pull that 'innocent' act on lots of women --- the first time."
"Only the ones who'll appreciate the joke," I responded.
That was when she first said, "It's like breathing for you, isn't it?
"You play games. You do your little evil tricks. I'm like that, too. But you will learn to regret that later on, Rod. For most people it's not this way."
I would learn how right she was.
Because Doe and I were so honest with each other, I told her how I wanted Rose. We plotted my seduction of Rose together. A couple weeks later I was watching beads of water bouncing like diamonds over cresting waves refract a sunrise on the Atlantic with Rose, and I was taking her home.
But it was only to find that she was a flounder. Great package and boring as hell in the sack.
Doe and I went to dinner the next week and I told her about my disappointment.
And she said: "I told you, Rod."
So I learned something new about books and their covers. And I regretted that Doe and I would never be in love with each other. She was so kind to me. But we would only be what my former-lover (now) Beth would call "fuck-buddies." We continued to see each other until she married a cop from Norfolk.
BACK TO YO: So people who knew us couldn't figure our friendship out. They saw the first page of demographics:
- Truck-driving dyke from Canada who hates men.
- Black American writer who's very heterosexual.
But they didn't see the second page: two members of oppressed minorities who had horrible childhoods. Motherless children.
And that was it. When Yo and I met the first time at Muddy Waters, a coffee shop in the Mission district of San Francisco, we quaffed pints of coffee and talked for hours. We talked about our childhoods, our deep hurts, our writing, our relationships...
"You believe that comfort is your enemy," Yo told me. I had never met anyone who could read me that deeply that quickly.
And I remember later, once we trusted each other, when Yo had picked up a copy of Madonna's book SEX and we met in a coffee house in the SoMa district (South of Market) and she shared it with me.
By then we were collaborating on the book. We were fast friends. She only gave me a little shit about being a man.
We had so much FUN! We laughed, we talked about our impressions of Madonna, art, the pictures, our dreams...
So when the black dog attacked me this time, I talked to Yo, who knows me.
What I am trying to share with you now is that we were two artists, two lost children, who had found someone else who "does it like breathing" --- and this time I mean Life.
I guess that's it. That's the unifying thread of this reminiscence. Sometimes you meet someone totally unlike you --- in most peoples' eyes --- who is absolutely and undeniably your Soul Mate.
That is Yona for me. That is why I love her.
Hey, Kids! Check out this page. We want you to join us.
Things That Bother Me This Week
- That my workload is beginning to exceed the hours in my days.
- The people who don't realize how hard it is to get a single article or story right --- and don't realize that I write MANY every week.
- People who make verbal commitments and then forget them.
- THE BLACK DOG.
REMEMBER: Tell every single one of your friends about this Web site.
Why do we keep doing this? Because we like you.
Thanks for coming back this week.
"Work like you don't need the money,
"Love like you've never been hurt,
"Dance like no one is watching..."
This is another Web site made on a Macintosh.
EDITORIAL CORRECTIONS: I blew it on the Saturday RDR copy. I apologize for the inconvenience.
ROD AMIS has published this magazine since 1990. It first appeared as a hardcopy 'Zine. In March, 1996, he launched it here on the Web. Rod was a Contributing Editor at Suite101.com, where he wrote the " 'Net Publishing" feature. His work has been featured in the San Francisco Bay Guardian Online, NRV8, and at WebLab's Reality Check site. Rod was also a contributing writer on technology for Faulkner Information Services.
Rod is now a columnist for the Andover News Network, where he writes on web design and development issues every Thursday. He is principal writer and Editor for IT Manager's Journal, where he reviews technology issues five days a week. His opinions on the Info Age began appearing on MethodFive's HYPER technology newsletter in March. 1999.
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